Did you know we starts to lose our muscle mass after we reach 40s? and up to 8% of muscle mass decreases each decade after that and could accelerate if you are suffering from illness or injury or having poor nutrition. It is very important to maintain your muscle strength especially in in your silver years to prevent sarcopenia which is a slow, progressive condition loss of lean muscle mass and strength which is part of the natural process of ageing. This will result in weak muscle and increase risk of falling, immobility and loss of independence.
Maintaining a healthy diet may be helpful to prevent/delay sarcopenia
- Adequate protein intake
Protein is important for building and maintaining muscle mass, strength and function. PROT-AGE study group recommends elderly (>65 years) to consume 1.0 to 1.2 g protein per kilogram of body weight per day in order to maintain and regain lean body mass and function. An even distribution of protein intake throughout the day (with 3 meals or adding on high protein snacks) increased 24 hour muscle protein synthesis to ensure our bodies are able to use the protein we are consuming and eventually preserve our muscles.
Fish, poultry, meat, egg and milk are great sources of high quality protein. Whereas older adults who follow a vegetarian or vegan eating pattern should eat a wide variety of plant-based high protein foods (example: legumes, nuts and seeds.) throughout they day to ensure they are getting enough protein
Studies also shown that Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), which is leucine metabolite increase lean muscle mass and some muscle function and physical performance parameters in older people. For elderly who could not consume the protein they need through food alone, they may opt for protein powder or milk powder to supplement their daily protein intake.
- Regular exercise
Muscle protein synthesis can be more effective with the addition of regular and moderate exercise. Weight bearing exercises, for example walking, climbing stairs and gardening as well as resistance exercises are great exercises for preserving and increasing muscle mass.
- Vitamin D
Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D may help older adults maintain muscle strength. Get 10 minutes of sunlight 2-3 times per week exposing about 25 percent of the skin’s surface (exposing just the hands and face to sunlight can help to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D). Vitamin D can also be obtained from foods such as fish (sardines, mackerel and tuna), egg yolk, meat and fortified beverages and breakfast cereals.
- Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties, PUFA may consider beneficial to prevent sarcopenia which is an age-related chronic low-grade inflammation